12 parties quit talks after Kaunda arrest

More than a dozen Zambian opposition parties pulled out of political reform talks yesterday to protest over the detention of former president Kenneth Kaunda, and ambassadors from aid-donor countries planned to meet to discuss the arrest.

Mr Kaunda, 73, who leads the largest opposition coalition, was arrested last week on suspicion that he was involved in a failed coup attempt in October. Donor countries were planning to meet to discuss the implications of Mr Kaunda's detention for Western aid, the Norwegian ambassador said.

The Organisation for African Unity, Britain, South Africa, the United States and Libya have called for Mr Kaunda's immediate trial or release.

No charges have been filed against Mr Kaunda, who was scheduled to appear in the Lusaka High Court yesterday. He has refused water and food since his arrest, according to his family and supporters, who have visited him at Mukobeko maximum security prison in Kabwe, 80 miles north of Lusaka.

- AP, Lusaka

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